More sun brings more risk for cancer

By Tony Parra

With the start of summer comes the start of concerns over skin cancer. More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer are treated in the United States each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Web site.
“Most family practitioners can check for it,” Roosevelt General Hospital Administrator James D’Agostino said. “If it’s deeper into the skin then the patient will have to go to a dermatologist.”
Patricia Green, a Portales physician, said she is able to treat skin moles and tumors.
“We look at the skin and see if there is a mole or something suspicious on the skin,” Green said. “Also if the mole changes in color and we did a biopsy to make sure it’s not malignant.”
Green said an analysis is performed on the skin, then the report is sent to a pathologist and they receive the analysis report back after two or three weeks.
“When we receive the report back, if the tumor shows it has been completely removed then it was successful,” Green said. “If it is not clear of the tumor then we have to send the patient to a specialist, such as a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.”
Portales patients seeking a dermatologist will have to go to Clovis or Roswell.
Yard work, field work, construction work and swimming are some common activities under the sun during the summer. However, Green doesn’t believe that a rise in temperature means a rise in people going to their physicians for checkups.
“People see moles on their skin and they ignore them,” Green said. “If they see a malignant growth, they’d better not ignore it.”
Some parents fear their children getting skin cancer. Parents can take their children to the public swimming pool, but for one mother her concerns over dark mole on her daughter’s foot turned into a visit to her physician.
“I started seeing dark spots on her feet,” Natividad Marquez said about her 8-year-old daughter, Daniella Marquez. “I took her to the physician, yesterday. He said he was not sure about the mole and told me that I needed to take her to a dermatologist.”
Marquez said she always had her daughter wear SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 45. Green recommended wearing SPF 30 or higher.
The incidence of melanoma more than tripled among Caucasians between 1980 and 2003 and an estimated 10,250 people will die of skin cancer in 2004, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Web site. Green said melanoma is an aggressive skin cancer.
The city pool offers another way to avoid high-risk sunburn hours: night swimming. There is open night swim on Tuesday and Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Also, there is family night swim from 7 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. on Wednesdays.
“It’s better to swim from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.,” Green said. “It’s a benefit to have night swimming. There’s a lot of risk of sunburn from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.”